Alan Sullivan

Alan Sullivan devoted the last year of his struggle with cancer to translating the seventy-eight poems attributed to King David, as a thanks offering to the psalmist for bringing him to God at the very end of his life. The translator of Beowulf for the Longman Anthologies of World and of British Literature, he was assisted by Seree Cohen Zohar, a scholar of Classical Hebrew in Israel.


01:    God will rise; his foes will scatter,

     and those who hate him flee his face.

02:    Disperse them as a smoke disperses,

     as wax melting before the flame:

     the wicked perish in God’s presence.

03:    Let the righteous cheer; let them rejoice;

     let them be glad in the sight of God.

04:    Sing unto God and laud his name.

     Prepare the way for the sky’s rider.

     His name is LORD. Exult before him.

05:    Orphan’s father, widow’s advocate,

     God is in his holy tabernacle.

06:    God gives the desolate a home. 

     He leads the captive into fortune,

     the rebel to a scorching desert.

07:    You went before your people, God,

     to guide them through the wilderness.


08:    The country quaked, the heavens stooped

     before God’s face. All Sinai shook

     before God’s face, the God of Israel.

09:    You sent abundant rain, O God,

     refreshing your domain from drought.

10:    Your creatures settled on it, God;

     you looked with favor on the poor.

11:    The Lord fulfilled his word, as many

     women of the conclave tell:

12:    kings of armies scatter, scatter;

     beauty, at home, divides the spoils;

     she takes her rest between the hearth-stones:

13:    the dove with wings encased in silver,

     her feathers shot with green-gold shimmer

14:    while the Almighty scattered kings

     as he disperses snow on Tsalmon.

15:    God’s mountain is the height of Bashan:

     many-peaked, the mount of Bashan.

16:    Why jostle in envy, mountaintops?

     This height is God’s desired abode:

     the Lord will dwell here evermore.

17:    The chariot of God is a thousand

     thousands of angels, the Lord among them

     in holiness, as he was at Sinai.

18:    Ascending, you took captivity captive.

     You received the gifts of men,

     even from rebels, entreating you,

     Lord, that God might dwell among them.

19:    Blesséd, the Lord who bears with us daily.

         God is our salvation.


20:    Our God is a God of deliverance;

     yet God, the Lord, dispenses death.

21:    God will crush the head of his foes,

     hairy-pated, who have not repented.

22:                The Lord proclaimed:

     “I will bring them out of Bashan;

     I will bring them from the depths of the sea,

23:    that you may wade in foemen’s blood,

     and the tongues of your dogs, lap it up.”

24:    Your processions have been seen, O God;

     processions, my God, my King, to your sanctum.

25:    Singers led, and minstrels followed;

     after them, maidens playing timbrels:

26:    “Bless you, God, in the great assembly;

     bless you, Lord, from the well-spring of Israel.”

27:    There is Benjamin, youngest, their leader;

     princes of Judah come as their council;

     princes of Zebulun, princes of Naphtali.

28:    God has appointed you to might;

     for God is might: the might we have seen

29:    about your temple at Jerusalem

     when kings would bring your tribute in.

30:    Rebuke the creatures of the reeds,

     bulls that crowd peoples like calves, 

     groveling to give their silver.

     Disperse the nations that delight in war.

31:    Envoys shall emerge from Egypt,

     and Cush herself reach out to God.

32:    Sing unto God, you kingdoms of earth.

         Sing praises to the Lord,


33:    rider of primordial heavens,

     whose voice sounds out, a mighty voice.

34:    Ascribe your mightiness to God,

     whose glory hovers over Israel,

     whose power fills the firmament.

35:    God, revered outside your sanctum:

     the God of Israel imbues

     the nation with his strength and power.

         Blesséd be the Lord.

Published in the 2011-05-06 issue: 

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